I’ve been having one of those weeks when I feel considerably fluffy headed. I can’t think clearly. Although I felt more like it was clearly, “I can’t think”. At all!
I decided while feeling like this it would be a good time to binge watch YouTube videos, my latest obsession being the motivational/self-improvement category.
Those “power of positive thinking”, “what you think is what you become”, “believe you can do it” and “this morning ritual will change your life” kind of videos. But the irony is that I often feel increasingly demoralised and useless the more saturated my brain becomes with ideas like these. Things that I SHOULD be doing. Being true to my POTENTIAL. Knowing what I WANT to do and just DOING it. To plow ever determinedly and forcefully through otherwise feelings!
So, I thought unsubscribing from those channels was a better idea.
I started wondering whether it is actually possible for a person to do whatever it is they set their mind to. Are we all able to be ballet dancers/molecular scientists/gorilla whisperers?
But not to the extent that we have been told we have to be any one of those things to find happiness/enjoyment.
I then remembered seeing a title of a TedX talk that seemed to me a more realistic take on what life as a human is like – “The Dark Side of Self-Improvement” by Suzanne Eder
It took the pressure off to JUST DO what seemed so easy for everyone else. That there wasn’t something wrong with me because I can’t JUST DO what I think I have to do to be a successful human – a human worthy of recognition and validation.
I wanted more. More TedX.
I searched and scrolled in between gulps of tea, eyes micro-darting from title to title finally resting on Barbara Sher’s
“Isolation is the dream-killer. Not your attitude.”
She talks about how we are able to find a way to do what our hearts long for by means of forming our own “success team”. That is – a support group of people (preferably random strangers) open to each other in all their neuroticism/grumpiness, coming up with solutions to make each person in the group’s dreams come true.
Her theory is that in the end we all really want to help others and solve their problems. So if you tell people what your most ridiculously unrealistic dream is, like being a gymnast after 30, chances are they will be able to come up with solutions to your seemingly most unsolvable problems.
But you can’t just say you want to be a gymnast. You have to say why you believe you can’t be a gymnast ie. your boobs are too big, your ankles too weak, your mouth doesn’t smile, you have no money or time because you have a child now AND you’re too old. Each obstacle giving birth to more obstacles.
This is important because it’s what immediately gets people into problem-solving mode. They start to fling all sorts of ideas out there contrary to what you believe to be true.
This is what Barbara termed “Idea parties” in one of her other videos (I watched so many I can’t find that one now). Haven’t we all been in one of those before? When relaxing with a group of good friends and someone shares how they feel down or stuck, doesn’t everyone start offering words of reassurance and encouragement? Or connect them with a person or thing that might be able to help them start moving again?
To help these “idea parties” along even further, you must also share what exactly it is about that thing you like.
Maybe you know you don’t what to be an Olympic Gold medallist in pommel horse but you want to be more flexible and enjoy the feeling of being strong and confident in your own body, enough to be able to move around in whatever way you feel you want to when you feel you want to – to be able to express your feelings in a full-body, physical way.
Someone in the group may make you aware of the fact that there are adult free-movement, dance or, indeed, gymnastic classes in your area. Or yoga, pilates, tai chi or fire throwing classes that will get you moving and feeling more at ease and in touch with your body and physical movement. Another may offer to look after your child for the time you need to try out a class. There may even be an offer of an unused exercise bra that’s exactly your size!
Whatever it is you want to do, it’s possible through connecting with others.
We don’t have to go it alone.
What a relief.
It was also refreshing to hear that we don’t have to “fake it till we make it” or try so hard to be happy and positive all the time so that we can do things in our lives that make us happy (there’s something ironic there, I’m sure).
We just need a support group. No matter how isolated (mentally or geographically)/anti-social/unlovable/difficult/down-right abominable we think we are, Barbara says that doesn’t matter.
But where will I find a bunch of random people that want to gather together to make connections and help people, you may ask?
We may not always be able to start actual physical groups of people but there are endless possibilities on social media. Barbara suggests joining groups on Facebook and conversations on Twitter here.
I’ve always found too much social media very overwhelming when I’m just browsing, looking for “inspiration” or something to distract me from what I should be doing. But when I have a clearer idea of what I’m looking for, honing in on just one or two things and interacting and connecting with others who have similar interests, it can actually be quite an enriching experience.
You can find “your tribe”, as they say, no matter how weird your interests are.
But what if you think your interests are too many and diverse and you can’t decide on any one thing that you love because you just love ALL the things??
Well, Barbara has more to say on that subject.
But I’ll save it for next time.
I will write!
*Cue cliché crazed cackle*